As always, SARDA has a busy year planned full of interesting new trials and outreach events dedicated to informing the public.
In 2018, we are running 71 trials across 5 different municipal districts so that our information can be as relevant to farmers as possible.
This totals up to a staggering 3082 individual plots that must each be seeded and carefully maintained while applying the proper treatments at the proper times and collecting data relevant to the study.
We have a full crew of summer students ready to get their hands dirty: Joseph and Joshua Sylvain, Tyler Yoder, Robyn Simoneau, and Dave Cloutier.
You can see their full introductions in our June edition of the Back Forty. We have a few new additions in those 72 trials that promise some interesting results.
This year we are starting two long-running trials testing crop sequence strategies. In our Novelty Rotation, we are testing a crop sequence that features crops not commonly seen in the Peace Region, such as flax, fababeans, quinoa, and hemp, along with more common crops such as wheat, barley, canola, and peas.
This will provide farmers with information on how novelty crops could potentially fit into their current crop rotations. We are also trialling a crop rotation meant to manage fusarium head blight by featuring non-host crops.
The rotation features wheat, barley, canola, peas, corn, and flax. We are also starting a deep banding trial that tests the deep banding of fertilizer once every 3 years with the more traditional annual fertilization at the same time as seeding.
We are testing various fertilizer types on canola, peas, and wheat.
Deep banding means that fertilizer is placed at 5-6” depth compared to the usual 2” or less depth.
The hope is that deep banding of fertilizer will help prevent the deficiency of active root zones resulting from long-term direct seeding.
We hope that this information will help farmers decide on a strategy that works the best for their farm.
Our SARVTs also make a return this year. These trials compare varieties of wheat and peas that are commonly grown in the area to new and upcoming varieties. The goal is for farmers to be able to look at a variety they might grow on their farm currently and compare it to a variety they are interested in growing.
We are testing 21 wheat varieties and 7 pea varieties in 3 different municipalities: Smoky River, Spirit River, and Greenview. Farmers can view the SARVT trials for themselves through our footprints self-guided tour, or visit our website for the report and published data. Speaking of our website, SARDA is now focusing on a greater distribution of information through the Internet. Our membership is now completely free. Signing up via our website gets you subscribed to our newsletter, where we share interesting articles and agricultural news, along with information about upcoming events and links to digital copies of our publications. This year we’ve added a digital archive of our annual report to the website, divided by year and trial. This is an easy way to see our data from previous years, including our 2017 year, so check it out at http://sarda.ca/annual-research-reports. Our website also features a list of upcoming events from us or from our partners and sister organizations across Alberta. Watch our Events page to find information sessions near you. We’re getting ready for our biggest event of the summer, the Summer Field School. This year we’re shaking things up quite a bit! Rather than a day event, we’re shifting to an afternoon and supper event, featuring barbequed rib-eye steak! We will host several presentations in field: Becky Devaleriola will speak about the Alternative Land Use Services program; NorQuin will share information about quinoa using our quinoa plots; and our own agronomy experts will talk about our deep banding trial and will be on-site to explain numerous other trials and plots. After the information sessions, you’ll be bussed back to our shop for its grand opening and supper, where you’ll be free to look around at our equipment along with informational displays, all while listening to the Small Town Drifters perform! Our displays include municipal representatives talking about their unique programs, Bear Smart, the Environmental Farm Plan, the Farm Energy and Agri-Processing Program, and many more. We’re incredibly excited about this event, especially because we’ve radically dropped the price: you can get all this for only $20. If you can’t make it to the Summer Field School, it’s still possible to see our plots. Every year our trial sites are open to the public, and this year’s no exception. At each site an information booklet will be provided, featuring a map of the site and detailed information on each trial and the treatments within the trial. All the trials will have signs to tell you what they are, and our SARVTs will feature detailed information for each variety within the trial. You can get the directions to our trial sites on our website www.sarda.ca on the right hand side of our homepage. We’ll also be hosting Crop Walks on August 14 and 15, from 2-4 pm. These Walks will feature our SARVT Wheat trial, with seed representatives presenting on the unique properties of their variety. It’ll be an incredibly informational look at how different varieties grow in the region, and it might help you make decisions for next year’s season. We’ll be announcing and hosting other events throughout the year, so be sure to check www.sarda.ca or sign up for our newsletter!
We would like to thank our sponsors and collaborators who make this all possible: our municipal sponsors MD of Smoky River, MD of Greenview, Northern Sunrise County, County of Grande Prairie, and Big Lakes County; our commission sponsors Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, and Canola Council of Canada; government agencies Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, InnoTech Alberta, and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; and our collaborators Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Lesser Slave Watershed Council, Farming Smarter, Peace Region Forage Seed Association, St. Isidore Co-op, and Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFS